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October 6, 2015 | 23rd Tishrei 5776

Reform Jewish Movement Calls on Knesset to Reject Conversion Legislation

Legislation will reopen one of the most divisive battles in the Jewish community.

Contact: Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, 212-650-4000

New York, March 9, 2010 - For 2,000 years, Judaism has treated Jews-by-choice the same as Jews-by-birth.  We are taught "as soon as a convert emerges from the mikvah (ritual bath) she or he is Jewish for all purposes."  (Talmud, Yevamot 47b)

For 62 years, since its founding, the State of Israel, through the Law of Return, has welcomed Jews from around the world as citizens in the world's only Jewish state.

Today, legislation before the Knesset - a bill sponsored by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beitenu that addresses both the authority of the Chief Rabbinate and matters of conversion - threatens both of those sacred principles.

This legislation will certainly reopen one of the most divisive battles in the Jewish community. The proposed legislation will lead to a situation in which Jews-by-choice would be treated differently and denied recognition as Jews under the Law of Return, in direct contradiction of Israeli Supreme Court rulings.  Additionally, it may lead to the delegitimization of all non-orthodox conversions performed outside of the State of Israel.

Our concern is neither partisan nor denominational, but emanates from true love of Medinat Yisrael and Klal Yisrael (the State and people of Israel).  With the unity of the Jewish people foremost in our thoughts and prayers, we urge the government and the Knesset to affirm core principles of that unity when enacting any legislation.  We call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to withstand the pressures of a small segment of the political spectrum and to do what is best for all Jewish people everywhere.

The Reform Movement calls upon the State of Israel to treat all religious streams of Judaism fairly and equally, a cause that is far from realization.  We call upon the Knesset to reject this partisan attack on the majority of American Jews. Finally, we call upon the Israeli people to join with us in an effort to help Israel live up to its promise as a Jewish and democratic State.


bettie Cooper

March 14, 2010
11:14 PM

If Israel wants the support of American Jews, it should accept those who claim to be American Jews. My granddaughter would not be considered Jewish by Israeli Orthodox rabbis although she has been brought up as a Jew and had her Bat Mitzvah. However, her mother has never converted. I say: either accept those Americans who claim their Jewish heritage or those Jews will not support Israel. We are either important to Israel or the minority Orthodox outweigh us. Israel, DECIDE!


Marcelo Adam

May 3, 2010
01:58 PM


This is a disaster, it is for sure going to divide Israel and Disapora Jewry. Giving all the powers to Jews b choice would feel? As they are not Jews. Israel has to stand up against it, is a ''massacre'' !!! Cape Town, South Africa


Mark Weinbert

July 13, 2010
05:48 PM

Who needs to worry about religious extremists in the Arab world, when we have our extremists in our own midst. Great civilizations have been destroyed from within, rarely from without. Get the message before it is too late.



July 13, 2010
06:28 PM

As a Jewish convert who has loved and defended my people and the State of Israel for a long time, I have to say this hurts.


Member, Staff

October 7, 2010
09:17 AM

I understand Bibi has proposed that non-Jews have to take a loyalty oath to "pledge loyalty to the nation-state of the Jewish People".  I wholeheartedly agree that this would be a step in the right direction.  While Israel continues to debate the topic over accepting converts into the Jewish religion, no one can deny the importance of the security and nationalism for the Holy Land of the Jewish People.


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